The court on Tuesday (14) prohibited the departure from Argentina of 14 Venezuelans who are part of the crew of a Venezuelan-flagged cargo plane, which also has five Iranians who already had their passports withheld by the authorities, informed judicial sources.
The measure was taken by the federal judge of Lomas de Zamora, Federico Villena, after a search and seizure operation that was carried out in his presence by the federal police in the hotel rooms where the crew of the Boeing 747, which has been detained since 8 June at Ezeiza International Airport.
“They came to search the 19 rooms, not the hotel. Everything went smoothly, they were very correct, without any problems. We were not allowed to go up, so we had no access to know anything about what happened,” the director told AFP. from the Plaza Central Canning hotel, César Giuggioloni, at the entrance of the establishment.
The case is under legal secrecy.
“There are five Iranians and 14 Venezuelans, each occupying a single room of the 51 they have at the hotel”, confirmed Giuggioloni, who added that he had been informed “first that they would leave on Monday, then tomorrow [quarta-feira] and now I believe they are scheduled for Friday”.
seven hour operation
In the operation, which began at dawn and lasted for seven hours, cell phones, personal computers and documents of various types were seized, according to a police source.
The hotel is located in the town of Ezeiza, close to the international airport of Buenos Aires, 40 km from the capital and, on the lower floor, there is a shopping center with several shops and restaurants.
“Passengers have the possibility to come and go freely, they have no restrictions”, assured the director of the hotel.
The ban on Venezuelans leaving the country is in addition to a similar measure applied since Monday to Iranian crew members in the face of “reasonable suspicion that the reason given for entering [na Argentina] could not be the real or true”, according to the court decision.
Argentina considers the presence of Iranian travelers to be sensitive, given the red alerts of arrest issued by Interpol against former authorities of the Asian country, accused of the attack on the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, in 1994, which left 85 dead and about 300 injured.
The Delegation of Argentine Israeli Associations (DAIA) is one of the parties in the judicial investigation process in the case of the plane.
The aircraft, which arrived in Argentina on June 6 from Mexico and then tried unsuccessfully to land in Uruguay, belongs to Emtrasur, a subsidiary of Venezuela’s Conviasa, which is on the US Treasury’s sanctions list.
But Venezuela, whose President Nicolás Maduro visited Tehran over the weekend, has made no official statement on the case.
In Mexico, an official from the government of Querétaro confirmed to AFP this Tuesday that the plane took off from its airport on June 5 and assured that international protocols were complied with.
“The entire review that was carried out in Querétaro by the federal authorities and the airport administration complied with international protocols,” said the local government’s Secretary for Sustainable Development, Marco Antonio Del Prete.
The flight arrived in Querétaro with four crew members and received authorization in Mexico to fly the Caracas-Querétaro-Caracas-Buenos Aires-Caracas route, he added.
“I don’t know if there was any change in the flight plan after it left Mexican airspace,” Del Prete noted.
The freighter landed at the Mexican airport on June 4 at around 6:30 am local time (8:30 am EDT), he said, without specifying the identity or nationality of the crew, as it was not within his competence.
According to the official, the flight arrived two days late due to a delay in delivering documents.
After refueling and loading “industrial goods”, the Boeing left Querétaro on June 5 at 18:37 “with the knowledge of the Federal Civil Aviation Agency, the National Institute of Migration”, the customs authorities and the airport administration, he said.
In May, that same plane traveled to Paraguay, from where it took a shipment of cigarettes to the Caribbean island of Aruba. The Paraguayan Minister of the Interior, Federico González, announced this Tuesday that he fired two employees who authorized the landing.